Parent Fit – Part Five

When children arrive, all your health goals go out of the window right…? This week: How to use food as a real lifesaver

In this series we’ve been looking into ideas that actually support a healthy lifestyle when children arrive (or any other life situation that turns your world upside down).

IMPORTANT NOTICE: You may find this hard to believe, but I’m not actually a midwife J . Please do not take these ideas as prescriptions, see your health professional before you do anything.

Give yourself the gift of nourishment

How would you describe your relationship to food? You may have not been asked that before. For some, food is simply fuel. For others, there is a lot more emotion attached to it. For years, I have used food as a way to de-stress, for comfort and often as a reward for all those greens I ate during the week! I’m still a work-in-progress on that front.

It is very common for people to change their eating habits (eat more, less or different) during times of stress. So as you can imagine, when children come along, the challenge is this:

A tired, stressed body needs good nutrition more than ever but all you want is a biscuit!!

So how can we approach this?

1) Make the call. You can have the best diet plan in the world, but if you haven’t made the decision to live a certain way you will always fall back to old habits. Quick tip; it’s always better if you and your spouse are doing this together

2) Meal plan. Decision making is exhausting. When deciding whether you need to go to the toilet or you can hang on becomes a life or death decision, you know energy levels are at crisis level. At this point, the last thing you want to do is think what to have for dinner, go out to shop for it then spend an hour cooking. You also don’t want to go down the slippery road of having chocolate digestives for a third meal in a row. Spend a few minutes planning your meals for the week, then shop for the ingredients (they even deliver these days!)

3) Throw junk away. Yes I know, it goes against everything our mothers banged into us for decades. “Children across the world are starving”. Yes I know mother, but at the rate of my weight gain I’m going to be the size of Africa in a week. After you’ve meal planned and got the food in, throw away the junk food that you know you’ll reach for.

4) Get colourful. The female body literally goes through trauma when giving birth. The different coloured foods provide different healing and energising nutrients that your body is craving. And men, you need them too!

5) The rule of one. There will be moments and often days where you just need something. This does not make you a bad person. If you have to have something, have it, have one. Sit down and enjoy it

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Fatloss Tips – Nutrition

Last month we put together a list of short and sharp fat loss tips. They were so popular that we’re going to put together a couple more lists. And to hopefully further help, we thought we’d categorise them so you could work at one thing at a time (which seems to be the most effective way at approaching a new task, from a results and sustainability point of view).

This week – Nutrition

  •  Starting the day with good quality fats and protein has been shown to improve people’s body composition (i.e. they become leaner) and because most of our brains biochemistry is made from fat, it can help us to think better and clearer throughout the day.
  • If you’re going to eat that treat, sit down and enjoy it. Don’t be a ‘treat ninja’ and stuff your face in secret
  • Adding things like lemon, lime and vinegar products to your foods and/or drinking water can help your body handle sugary foods better. It also helps balance out the acid/alkali balance in your body (which when balanced gives you more energy and can lead to your weight normalising)
  • You are how you eat. Stress pretty much shuts down the digestive system. So when we eat in this state (e.g. in a rush, watching an action film), we don’t digest our food as well. It can even sit there fermenting and becoming more and more toxic for hours at a time. This can lead to bloating, a lack of energy and irregular releases of the brown sausages. Relax. Chew your food. Enjoy it.
  • Eat anything green! Green foods improve the acid/alkali balance in your system which can improve energy and speed up fat loss. Challenge yourself to have something green with every meal (tip: a cheeky sprinkle of green herbs is a great addition to any meal)
  • Herbs and spices are nutrient powerhouses. Not only do they contain tremendous health properties they make things taste ridiculous. With the amount of benefits their finding in turmeric, it’ll probably solve world peace and the refugee crisis by Christmas.
  • Low carb is great, but don’t kid yourself. Eating more leafy greens instead of bread/rice/pasta, or swopping these things for lower carb alternatives like courgette noodles, spaghetti squash or celeriac mash will undoubtedly help you lose body fat. But I wouldn’t be too concerned about the spoonful of rice, when there’s enough curly wurly’s eaten in-between meals to put a 12 year olds birthday party to shame.
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February Fatloss tips

For some, at this time of year, the enthusiastic resolutions of the New Year seem a long time ago. Research has shown that over 90% of people have given up on their New Year’s resolutions by now.

But for those of you who have made your mind up and are sticking with it (firstly, well done), we’ve put together a list of quick tips and tricks that will help keep you on track and give you ideas on how to progress.

  •  “If you don’t assess you guess”. Always start by measuring something so you know if you’re methods are working or not. Here are a few ways to do it:

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  • Photos of yourself in the mirror
  • Tape measure
  • Use one piece of clothing (pic of me with a measuring tape around me)
  • Take out as many variables as possible by measuring on the same time and day each week.

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  • Last week my mother-in-law completely disregarded my fat loss ambitions and taught a young Korean chap how to bake, so he can go home and start a business. Yes, I know, very selfish. The lesson to learn here:

We all have our weak points (especially at the start of our journey), so if you ever come across a deluge like this one, RUN. It sounds silly, but you cannot eat if you are not in the kitchen.

If fat loss if your goal, limit domino foods (once you start eating them you can’t stop) like nuts and humus to one portion/day. Although they are extremely healthy for us and it’s not all about calories, swimming in a tub of almond butter every day can put an abrupt halt on your fat loss ambitions.

Keep a food diary. This is a huge one. Simply recording what you eat does two things:

  • Makes you realise how much you eat and/or all the little snacks you didn’t realise were going in!
  • Recording what you eat causes you to make thousands of sub conscious decisions every day regarding what you eat as you are more aware of it. This is even more so if you know you have to show it to someone who is holding you accountable to it

PLAN YOUR MEALS. Each week, write out the meals you’re having then shop for the ingredients. Ideally have very little other food in the house, apart from the food within the meal plans. This takes out so much stress and impulse eating.

 

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New Year Starts – Healthy Eating

New Year kick-start – Healthy eating: Where to start?

When trying to improve an aspect of our health, a major reason why people often fall short of their target is because the goal is either too unrealistic and/or the whole process of trying to achieve it becomes too overwhelming and too drastic a change of lifestyle to sustain. Along with exercise, healthy eating is one of the most common areas people find hard to maintain.

Why is what we eat so important?

Your body is making millions of new cells every single day. So guess what your body uses as building blocks for these cells? Yep, the food we eat. What we eat can determine not only how we look, but how much energy we have, how our joints feel and even our mood (ever noticed people get a bit grumpy/have an energy crash after sugary food and junk food?!) How would our cars perform if we put dirty fuel in it as opposed to premium, filtered rocket fuel?!!

If food’s so important why can it be so hard to change?

As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, it is harder than we think to change habits that have been there for a long time, and what we eat can be a very strong habit (if you’ve ever tried taking chocolate off a chocoholic you’ll know what I mean!) Another factor which can prove challenging is simply not knowing what to do. With so much conflicting evidence out there regarding what’s best to eat, it is very easy to get so confused you don’t know where to start.

So to help, here are a few basic tips to get you started:

1) The number one rule of nutrition is Eat food as close to its natural state as possible. For every stage of processing a food goes through it loses some of its goodness. Small changes like having a jacket potato instead of curly fries, cooking with lean mince instead of a fast food burger, or an apple instead of apple juice can really help.

2) Aim to reduce the amount of sugary foods in our diet. Watch out, big claim coming up: sugar is one of the most dangerous substances for your health there is. It is toxic. Unfortunately, because it makes foods a lot tastier and addictive, food companies add it to everything. Sugar increases the chance of weight gain and drastic drops in health and energy. Aim to buy natural foods and if you like sweeter tastes, add your own sweetness using foods like honey or natural fruit juices.

3) Go green. Green vegetables would do more for your health than Mr Motivator and the magic drink from the Nutty Professor combined. Eat as much as you can. If you don’t like them, start by adding them in small quantities to things like soups and stews where they can be hidden. You can also add things like olive oil, balsamic vinegar, herbs and spices to make them taste better.

These may sound ridiculously simple, but you’d be amazed at how you start feeling and looking once you start feeding your body the fuel it thrives off.

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How I Use My Nutribullet

How do I actually use this Nutri-Bullet thingy?!!

How to avoid creating another expensive dust collector and actually get the most out of your latest kitchen gadget

Whenever someone tells me they’ve bought a treadmill for the house, I gently smile and congratulate them on their new, very expensive coat hanger. Yes I know, I know, there are some of you out there, who are far better human beings than I am and actually use their home based exercise equipment. It is however, a fact that the vast majority of exercise equipment bought for the home gets less use than the spice rack in a bachelor pad.

There is sadly, another area of ‘health at home’ that, with all good intentions attracts huge investment for a similar miniscule return: kitchen gadgets.

If you’re anything like me, your kitchen has been filled over the years with machines that chop veg, make soups, blitz beans, grind spices, squeeze lemons, peel garlic, the list goes on. Most of these, I have now relocated to the ‘filing cabinet’. I have, however, made one recent addition to my gadget repertoire that I actually use, and would now struggle to do without: The Nutri-Bullet.

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The What?

The Nutri-bullet is a glorified liquidizer/food processer that blitzes whatever you put into it. It seems to be all the rage at the moment, and I often get asked what I think of them and how to use them. It can be used for many things, but for the cause of saving another kitchen gadget, I will share with you today how we use it for smoothies.

Why smoothies?

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I’ve found the smoothies that can be made from a Nutri-bullet, are a great way to get nutrition into your diet, which you may not be able to through meals. For example, a decent amount of ginger can overpower a meal, but add a lovely zing to a smoothie (as well as the amazing health benefits). I personally use them as snacks and a replacement for the extra caffeine.

Below, is the ingredient formula that we find hits the balance between health and taste. It is easy to get too excited and go all out health (all raw green veg), ending up with an undrinkable mush and a rush to buy more toilet roll. On the other hand, if there’s too much fruit and/or fruit juice, the ever increasing share price of diabetic drugs will continue to rise.

For some important background info on how to start using juices/smoothies and one of my favourite recipes, check out these two short articles http://www.alphapw.com/juicing/ http://www.alphapw.com/project-restoration-part-three/

The Smoothie Formula

* Pick one from the greens column (more than one can make it undrinkable when you start off),

* Pick one from the fruit section (you may need more than one initially, but try to get it down to one serving of fruit as soon as possible to limit sugar intake. Also, beetroot and carrot can really help sweeten the smoothie).

* As many as you want from the filler/diluters section (these add some good nutrition, but won’t add much taste. They can however dilute the stronger tastes of ingredients like ginger)

* Pick one from the liquid (due to the nutri-bullet blitzing the whole vegetable, skin and all, you will need to add some form of liquid to make it drinkable. I would stick to the options listed as using fruit juices or milk ramps up the sugar intake)

* As mentioned above, I find it hard to get enough ginger in my diet so ginger is a constant in my smoothies, along with lemon juice (their zing can also cleverly distract your mind from the taste of the greens)

 

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*We found spinach to be the best green to use, as it doesn’t taste as bitter as the others.

There are no limits to the variety of smoothies you can make. Once you’ve tried it out a few times and know what you like, play about and see if there are any other combinations that work. An important point to note is that your tastebuds are like anything else, they can be trained. As you get healthier and consume more vegetables, your bitter tastebuds will develop and you will find foods edible, sometimes even sweet that you couldn’t even face before. Go for it!

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Tasty upgrades

“My people die for a lack of knowledge”

Learn about these simple switches you can make in your food planning that could boost your health, without too much of the pain that comes from change

The world seems to be going a little carb crazy at the moment. In the 80’s we were brainwashed that fat was the enemy (my mother still has a heart attack when I fry my nuts in butter as a healthy snack). Meat was then castigated as the source of all evil, especially when the china study came out (where a vegetarian diet was highly encouraged). These days it’s all about low carb.

Let’s talk sense for a second

Common sense, believe it or not, is actually very common. It’s very common for people to know what foods actually help them to improve their health. We can’t go too far wrong with quality foods cooked from scratch, that are as close to their natural state as possible. This however takes work, which we like to avoid at all costs, so we would rather kid ourselves that a convenient ‘low carb healthy cereal bar’ is better for us than roasting some ‘carby’ vegetables dressed with oil.

The simplified version of low carb is this:

  • If you’re looking to lose body fat, reducing the amount of sugary foods and starchy/white carbohydrates (cereals, flours, breads, rice, pasta) will produce good results. Watch this short video I made for you to help on this topic.
  • Learning to manage your sugar levels will provide more benefits than just around you middle, this article will serve you best by clearly stating the following obvious point, which we all try ignore more than run down batteries in the TV remote…

To improve anything, especially your health, 

you will have to work hard and change things. And change often isn’t easy or pain free. 

If it was, we’d all look as good as the dancers on ‘Strictly’

With that said…

I am definitely a fan of avoiding any unnecessary pain when it comes to change. So if you would like to reduce body fat and improve a whole host of health markers, here are some changes to your diet that are not that painful but do yield some pretty impressive results:

  1. Cauliflower rice as a replacement for normal rice. 

Type this into google and it will come up with loads of “how to’s” and recipes. I simply grate the cauliflower, dry fry it in a wok (or with sesame oil is stunning) and serve it as you would rice.

  1. Spiralized vegetables

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As you can see in the picture, these machines produce spaghetti type shapes with vegetables that have a far better impact on your blood sugar than white flour spaghetti. You can boil them like usual spaghetti, but my favourite is to gently fry them in butter. Here is a video of another kind of spiralizer.

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